Active noise-cancellation, or ANC, is the technology found inside of premium headphones, and it cuts out the unwanted noise from your ears, so you can only head the music. Before you can understand how ANC works, you must know how conventional headphones work. They emit sound waves, which are a form of pressure waves. The sound waves move in a longitudinal direction, as opposed to transversal.
We did our homework and found the earbuds and headphones presented in the list below to be the best of the best. They are truly the best noise-cancelling earbuds and the best noise-cancelling headphones.
|Earbuds||Noise Isolation Rating||Type|
|Griffin Philips Fidelio NC1||7.5/10||Headphones|
|Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless||8.8/10||Headphones|
|Bose QuietComfort 20||9.5/10||Earbuds|
Active noise-canceling headphones and headsets work by forming an invisible barrier, which blocks higher and lower-frequency sound waves from getting the listener’s ears. These headphones emit a sound wave with exactly the same amplitude as the one that you would like to listen to, and it flips it, creating an inverted phase. These two sound waves then join together, like a jigsaw, and cancel each other out.
These headphones obviously require a lot more technology, and this means they can’t solely run from a 3.5mm auxiliary chord, so they usually require charging every so often. They require: a microphone inside of the casing, which picks up all of the sounds you would like to block out, so that it can decide which amplitude to use on the counter sound-wave; you also need the rechargeable battery we mentions, and these usually last around 10 hours; the headphones also have a more complex circuit, meaning they may be slightly heavier.
Not all noise cancelling headphones come at a premium price, although the vast majority do, so we have included a budget and a slightly more expensive pair of headphones in our list.
Budget – Philips Fidelio NC1
For the price, the Fidelio really packs a punch, and it has some of the best technology, at an unbeatable price. The noise cancelling technology is said to be some of the best on the market, and the audio is HD and crisp. The ear-cups are padded with memory foam, which is another feature that makes you think these are far more expensive than they actually are. The 40 mm drivers are said to be hand tested before being chosen, so that you, once again, get the best quality sound. The price/performance of the Fidelio’s will simply blow you away, and if you don’t want to fork out a small fortune on a pair of headphones, these are for you.
- Fantastic price/performance
- Incredibly budget friendly
- Memory foam ear-cups
- Super active noise-cancellation technology
- There are four microphones that work together to cancel the noise
More expensive – Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wireless
The Momentum 2.0’s are a slight step up in technology, and they are more premium overall. They are packed with Bluetooth 4.0 technology, as well as NFC for ultra-fast, on the go pairing, which allows for a more flexible listening style. They sport a humongous battery that is said to last 22 hours with both Bluetooth and ANC active. The noise-cancellation technology is called Noise Guard Hybrid, and it works tremendously, so that you will never be interrupted when listening to music again.
- Premium build with Alcantara covered ear cushions and a stainless steel headband
- Pair up to two devices at the same time, so you can listen to more than one audio source
- They have a mammoth 22 hour battery life, with ANC on!
- They are also fully wireless, using Bluetooth 4.0
- Near Field Communication for quick pairing
In case you are after something a bit more portable, yet still noise-cancelling, then these earbuds are for you. They are perfect for people like commuters and sports enthusiast, who may be near loud noises that they would rather not hear.
Bose QuietComfort 20
These earbuds from Bose are some of the best on the market, and they offer super noise cancellation, in a portable, in-ear shell. The noise cancellation allows you to block out distractions, although this is not convenient all of the time, so at the push of a button you can enter aware mode that, as the name suggests, allows you to hear what is happening around you. They also have enhanced earbuds, that aim to create a comfortable and secure fit in your ear, and they also contribute to the noise cancelling, as they act as a passive noise canceller.
- Ultra-portable in-ear design
- Fantastic noise cancellation technology
- Comfortable, passive noise-cancellation earbuds
- Aware mode
The Audio-Technicas are a more budget friendly pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, and they come in very cheap. Their advanced electronics cancel out 90% of background noise, so these are perfect for commuters who are constantly put off their music by the annoying background noise. They also have an inline microphone, so you can answer calls on the go, as well as playing/pausing music.
- Phenomenal price, far cheaper than the Bose
- 90% audio reduction, which is great
- Inline controls and microphone
In this article, we have covered what Active Noise-Cancellation, or ANC, is and how it works, and we have given you a few example products to look at. If you are a serious music fan, who often is distracted by background noise, then a pair of headphones like this are definitely for you.
We hope that you can use this information when buying a pair of headphones, and if you would like any advice on which pair to choose, we are always on hand to help.